I feel the need for some more speed
Iíve long been a fan of the Need for Speed series, back when I first played it on the 3DO. Itís changed a lot as time has rolled on, some good and some bad. I was extremely sceptical when I heard that it might be going back to its roots Ė but my scepticism was pushed aside once I found out that the makers of Burnout were behind the new iteration of the game. Criterion have never really steered me wrong.
So for anyone who doesnít like to read a long winded review, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is a good one Ė with some minor irritations and missed opportunities to round out the package. Itís definitely a step in the right direction.Story
None, put your pedal to the metal and race, race, race.Gameplay
Press the right trigger to accelerate, left to brake, X for handbrake and thatís all you need to know. You control the car with the left stick and just like every other racer thatís the limit of the controls. At the core of the new Need for Speed is the fact that itís been retooled to appeal to both fans of Burnout and of old school NFS. Gone is the tuner options, customised cars and bodywork, performance boost and so on.
They have been replaced by a mouth-watering car list that would make any fan of Top Gear happy. The Buggati Veyron sits shoulder to shoulder with a Mercedes Mclaren SLR (several variants) and the likes of a Lancer Evolution X, Mazda RX 8 and Porche Boxter are just a few of the automotive giants that make the cut.
These cars are split between racer and cop careers and unlocked via Bounty, basically experience gained from online or offline play across various modes. Simply put the game is based on driving with style and substance, avoiding crashes, wrecking the opposition where you can and getting across the finish line first. The more you gain Bounty, the higher your Wanted level and the more cool things you unlock Ė got it?
You can drive a free ride experience sans damage and cops at any time, but thereís no way to trigger a Hot Pursuit outside of career mode, which seems to be a little disappointing, since that has always been one of my favourite things to do. Instead you have to jump into career and take on racer challenges as well as cop challenges. These races are broken down into point to point events that have you against the other racers, or against the clock, or even against the racers and police.
You also get one on one duel races where you battle against another opponent who is basically right in your rear-view mirror until the end pretty much. Thereís none of this namby-pamby leading the pack in this game, youíre lucky if you can stay out in front of the pack in some of the later races unless you master short cuts and other tricks.
Hot Pursuits are adrenaline soaked charges to the finish with racers and police hot on your heels, every step of the way. You are given access to some game changing tech later on that allows you to drop spike strips, jam cop radar and EMP (shutdown) the opponentís engine for a while. You can also kick in a turbo boost that gives you a massive punch of speed compared to nitrous which recharges the crazier you drive, just like in Burnout.
Seacrest County map lists all the events you can take part in and you can easily see what medals you have, what you need to get and what races are coming up. The GUI is flawless really.
Thatís all there is to it apart from the Autolog, and for me...this is about 10% of the appeal of the game. Iím not really into beating anyoneís score that has driven quicker than I have, I donít thrive on social competition...Iím a co-op person and sadly for me this game is lacking in that department since Iím not fond of 80% of the idiots I encounter on Live or PSN.
I donít get that feeling of AWESOME when I beat a time that someone else has set, Iím just glad to have done the race and move onto the next one. I want to play cooperatively with a friend in another cop car chasing down AI racers. But can I do that? NO...they left that part out of this game, sure you can play online with people and have cops vs. Racers...but thereís no way to play as racers outrunning AI cops Fast and Furious style, or cops taking down AI racers. This omission is grounds enough for me to lower the score quite a bit.
Autolog for me is just there, Iím not concerned with posting things to my in-game wall and crowing that I beat X or Y. I just want to play the god damn game, whatís next, FACEBOOK integration? Give me a break.
All that Autolog coding time could have been put to use fleshing out the game more, because at the moment it feels like I have half a game. One thatís again itís mired by an almost safe-design, the short cuts arenít very exciting and the game doesnít grab me as much as the original Burnout Revenge did. Thereís none of the big air moments that made NFS and NFS HP 1 and 2 so much fun for me on the PS2. It all feels a bit watered down.
The car to car action in the dedicated Hot Pursuit modes is basically Burnout with tech based gadget thrills, the same cameras and the same Takedowns...yet it still doesnít leap off the screen and grab me by the throat. Itís exciting enough, but misses out here and there with a feeling of: been there, seen it, done it all before.
Donít get me wrong though, it is fun. Graphics
I canít grumble about these, itís a pretty game with some amazing vistas and some gorgeous if somewhat pedestrian track design. There never really feels that anything beyond the basic A-B design of the track has been thought about here. Missed opportunities for some amazing set pieces abound and whilst itís fantastic to drive in a thunder storm, it still doesnít matter if youíre just whizzing along at 250mph in the rain and never hitting any kind of death-defying curves or jumps.
The car graphics are great, the lighting is excellent and the rest of the graphics package ensures that the game moves along at a blistering eye-bending speed.